Lovely Urges Manning, Slattery to Refuse Support by Outside Interests in Senate Race
Lovely says a growing number of citizens have lost faith in elected officials in large part because of the influence of money in politics.
Salem city councilor Joan Lovely is looking to set a tone for the state Senate race, one which clearly distances itself from any outside purse strings and influence. She says it's an effort to address a climate of distrust for elected officials by the public.
“We live in a time when a growing number of citizens have lost faith in their elected officials in large part because of the influence of money in politics. The public perceives that their voices have been drowned out by special interests who can afford to give large contributions to candidates,” Lovely said Monday in a statement.
“Contributions from special interests, rightly or wrongly, give the public the perception that the system favors special interests over the interests of individual citizens. I believe candidates must make every effort to preserve their independence and avoid any action that contributes to public cynicism toward our legislative process,” she added.
To that end, Lovely has called on fellow candidates Mary-Ellen Manning and John Slattery to likewise refuse any contributions from political action committees or special interest groups -- campaign donations that oftentimes are accompanied by a special interest in bills before the legislature. She hopes the two share her concern for "growing public cynicism" for both politicians and the legislative process.
Lovely said individual letters were delivered to Manning and Slattery on Monday. Copies were forwarded to the press as well.
"I hope you will also recognize that maintaining your independence and your ability to deal openly and objectively on every legislative issue without bias, real or perceived, is an essential part of restoring the public’s faith in elected officials and the legislative process," Lovely wrote.
She went on to issue her challenge and said: "I hope you will have the political courage and foresight to accept [it]."
“I welcome the continued support of individuals of every age and profession: local police and firefighters, teachers, nurses, workers from every trade, local businessmen and women, nonprofit and neighborhood volunteers, seniors and veterans. I respect them, the organizations they belong to and the work they do,” Lovely said. "But, I am not seeking nor will I accept financial contributions from political action committees (PACs) or special interests groups."
"The support I am seeking belongs to the individual voters I will meet as I campaign in the months ahead with no strings attached other than my promise to work hard for them with honesty and determination," said Lovely.
Manning said Monday afternoon that she shares Lovely's concern on the overall issue and is "more than willing to discuss ways" to combat it, but not like this. In fact, she said, it appeared Lovely was just trying to financially "handcuff" her opponents by accepting the charge.
"Special interests are indeed a corrupting influence on government," Manning said, issuing a statement later. She noted she has fought for reforms while on the Governor's Council, including doing away with the practice of councilors accepting political donations from judicial applicants while their applications were pending before the council.
"Unlike my opponent, I trust the other candidates to act in accordance with their values, rather than issuing public challenges requiring them to act in accordance with mine," she said. "It is ironic that Joan Lovely calls for the renunciation of donations from the influence peddlers when in fact her campaign manager Joyce McMahon (per the Salem News) is a paid lobbyist. I hope that the letter she submitted to the newspaper is a sincere call for reform, but I hasten to add that the city of Salem, which she represents, is facing quality of life concerns in which lobbyists have financial interests.
"The voters and I are eager to hear my opponent explain why she makes exceptions for certain influence peddlers rather than embracing a principled rejection of them all," Manning said.
[Editor's Note: Lovely says, for the record, her campaign manager is Darek Barcikowski of Salem, not McMahon, and further that McMahon is not part of the campaign. McMahon has only said publicly that she supports Lovely in the race.]
Lovely said she did not know if her opponents had secured outside funding or not, the challenge was simply a campaign pledge she was making.
Slattery did not openly criticize Lovely, but issued the following statement in response:
"As State Representative for the 12th Essex District, I voted for that in which I believed and for what I felt best served my district despite that the political winds may not have favored my position.
"I am fortunate to have broad based support across the 2nd Essex District for my campaign to be the next state senator. If elected, like the Honorable Fred Berry, I will work hard to serve the interests of all the people of the 2nd Essex District. I welcome support from all those interested in good government. I look forward to discussing the important issues facing all the people of the 2nd Essex District as the campaign moves forward."
To date, only Slattery has announced receiving two endorsements -- from the Peabody and Salem firefighters' unions.